What Should You Know About the Immuotherapy Drug Opdivo? (2022)

The immunotherapy drug Opdivo (nivolumab) is now approved for several cancers that are metastatic (such as lung cancer, melanoma, and more), and has resulted in responses previously not seen with these advanced cancers. The drug works, simplistically, by helping the body's own immune system eliminate cancer cells. Unlike chemotherapy, Opdivo targets cancer cells specifically, and often has fewer side effects than traditional chemotherapy drugs. Common side effects include a rash, electrolyte abnormalities, and inflammation in a number of different organs. Let's look at the mechanism of action of Opdivo, when and how it may be used, potential side effects, and how healthcare providers are attempting to learn who will respond best to these drugs.

What Should You Know About the Immuotherapy Drug Opdivo? (1)

Opdivo (Nivolumab)—Definition

Opdivo (nivolumab) is considered a type of immunotherapy drug, the first drug in this category approved for lung cancer (in 2015) and also now approved for several other cancers.Immunotherapyis a relatively new type of cancer treatment which uses the immune systemor principles of the immune response to fight cancer.

There are many different types or categories of treatments that are classified as immunotherapy. Opdivoisconsidered a "checkpoint inhibitor" (which we will discuss further below).

Opdivo (nivolumab) has been an exciting addition for treating cancer in past few years, and much of the excitement is not just hype. Some people have had responses to the medication which were almost unheard of even within the last decade. Unfortunately, Opdivo does not work for everyone, but when it is effective it may result in a durable response (defined below). Side effects are common, but in general, are milder than side effects found with many chemotherapy regimens.

Is Opdivo (Nivolumab) a Type of Chemotherapy?

Many people are confused about how chemotherapy and immunotherapy are related.Is immunotherapy, and specifically nivolumab, a type of chemotherapy?

Sometimes, chemotherapy is used loosely to describe any type of drug given to fight cancer. In this case, immunotherapy drugs may sometimes be referred to as chemotherapy. Yet there are important differences as well. The term "chemotherapy" usually refers to the use of drugs which affect cell division of all rapidly growing cells. The well-known side effects of chemotherapy arise because, in addition to fighting cancer cells, these drugs also affect normal cells that divide rapidly. It is this action of chemotherapy on healthy cells, such as those in the bone marrow (resulting in a low white count and more), hair follicles (resulting in hair loss), and digestive tract (resulting in nausea) that results in the common side effects.

In contrast, immunotherapy drugs are designed specifically to alterthe body's immune system oruse substances made by the immune system to fight cancer, and does not attack all of the cells in the body. For this reason, immunotherapy drugs often have fewer side effects than traditional chemotherapy drugs.

How Opdivo (Nivolumab) Works (Mechanism of Action)

Opdivo (nivolumab) is an immunotherapy drug which is classified as a checkpoint inhibitor.

(Video) Opdivo (nivolumab) the Immunotherapy Cancer Treatment

The mechanism of action of checkpoint inhibitors is easier to understand if you think of your immune system as a car, with checkpoint inhibitors being the brakes on the car.Our immune systems are designed to attack bacteria, viruses, and even cancer cells in our bodies. Our immune system already knows how to fight cancer. Just as our body fights off bacteria and viruses in our environment, it is designed to fight off foreign cells such as cancer cells.

The immune system does, however, have checks and balances. These checkpoints serve to control the immune system so it doesn't underperform or overperform. An overactive immune system, is, in fact, a problem with autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

The "brakes" of the car thatslow down the process are proteins referred to as checkpoint inhibitors. These checkpoint proteins slow down the immune response so that it is not overactive. One of these proteins is PD-L1. PD-L1 binds to PD-1 receptors on T cells (the cells in the immune system most active in attacking cancer), telling them to be quiet.

Cancer cells are tricky. Some cancer cells have found a way to produce a lot of PD-L1. When this binds to PD-1 receptors on the T cells,it allows the cancer cells to grow unchecked, almost like putting a mask on the cancer cells so that the immune system does not recognize and attack them.

Opdivo works by binding to and blocking the activation of PD-1 by PD-L1, essentially releasing the brakes on the car (immune system) so that it can fight the cancer. All in all, Opdivo works by taking the mask off of cancer cells so that they can no longer hide from the immune system, and end up being destroyed by our body's own immune response.

Opdivo (Nivolumab) Uses

Opdivo is usually used for stage IV (inoperable) cancers, cancers that cannot be treated with surgery and have usually spread to other parts of the body (referred to as metastatic).

What Cancers May Be Treated With Opdivo?

Opdivo (nivolumab) has been approved for the treatment of people with lung adenocarcinoma (a type of non-small cell lung cancer), squamous cell carcinoma of the lungs (another type of non-small cell lung cancer), metastatic melanoma, Hodgkin disease, head and neck cancer, Merkel cell carcinoma, and renal cell carcinoma (kidney cancer). It is also being used in clinical trials for other cancers.

How is it Given?

Opdivo is given by intravenous injection over an infusion period of about an hour. It is most often given every 2 weeks.

(Video) Immunotherapy and the side effects

Alone or in Combination

Opdivo may be given alone, or in combination with other immunotherapy drugs, chemotherapy drugs, or radiation. Of note is that combination therapy may work well due to a particular mechanism. Chemotherapy or radiation therapy result in the breakdown of tumor cells. The breakdown products of these cells are then "seen" by the immune system, and by essentially priming the system, may result in immunotherapy drugs working better.

What Does “Durable Response” Mean?

Before discussing the studies on nivolumab, it’s helpful to define a term that’s used frequently when describing the response to immunotherapy drugs: the term "durable response."

A "durable response" refers to a long-lasting positive response of a tumor to a drug. There is not a specified time, but "long-lasting" usually means a minimum of 1 year and sometimes much longer.

If you see studies talking about a "durable response," this often contrasts with the typical type of response expected from chemotherapy. With stage IV solid tumors, chemotherapy can be effective but the tumor almost always becomes resistant to chemotherapy after a relatively short period of time (often defined in months). With targeted therapies, the response time is often longer, yet resistance often develops in a year's time depending on the particular drug, the type of cancer, and much more. (Some of the newer targeted therapies appear to work longer than this.)

A durable response does not mean a "cure" but it defines a response that in many ways is the closest thing we have at this time—when it works.

Immunotherapy May Continue to Work After Treatment is Done

Unlike chemotherapy and targeted therapy—which are effective only as long as a person is taking the drug—for some people who have taken Opdivo, it appears that it may continue to be effective. With non-small cell lung cancer, some people have had durable responses even after discontinuing therapy.

What Are Studies and Clinical Trials Telling Us About Opdivo?

Studies have, in general, looked at the effect of Opdivo on specific cancers rather than cancers as a whole:

  • Non-small cell lung cancer: A 2017 review of nine studies involving people with stage III and stage IV non-small cell lung cancer found that nivolumab (and Tecentriq (atezolitumab) and Keytruda (pembrolizumab) improved overall survival more than chemotherapy when used second line (and also pembrolizumab first line in PDL-1 positive tumors). In addition, people experienced fewer side effects on the checkpoint inhibitors than on chemotherapy. Opdivo may be used for either lung adenocarcinomaor squamous cell carcinoma of the lungs. Opdivo should only be used for those people who do not have targetable gene mutationsor haven't responded to targeted therapy.
  • Metastatic melanoma: Opdivo is now recommended first line(as the first treatment) for metastatic melanoma.
  • Metastatic small cell lung cancer
  • Esophageal cancer (unresectable, advanced, recurrent, or metastatic)
  • Classical Hodgkin lymphoma: Opdivo may used for people with classical Hodgkinlymphomawho are not improving after a stem cell transplant and use of targeted therapy.
  • Squamous cell head and neck cancer(metastatic or recurrent).
  • Renal cell carcinoma: Opdivo is approved both first line in combination with Yervoy(ipilimumab) and second line (after anti-angiogenesis inhibitor therapy) for advancedrenal cell carcinoma, the most common type of kidney cancer.
  • Urothelial carcinoma: Opdivo is approved for people with this type of bladder cancer who are not improving on chemotherapy.
  • Merkel cell carcinoma
  • Colorectal cancer: One type of metastatic colon cancer after treatment with three chemotherapy drugs.
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma (liver cancer): Opdivo may be used after treatment with Nexavar (sorafenib).

When Does Immunotherapy Work Best?

The research on Opdivo and other immunotherapy drugs is still young, but with lung cancer at least, it seems that people who have smoked in the past are more likely to respond to the drug than those who have never smoked. This makes sense when thinking about the mechanism. Lung tumors in people who have smoked have a "higher mutation load." In other words, the cancer cells have more of the mutations that are found in cancer cells that occur in the process of the cell becoming cancerous. (This is not related to heredity and these mutations are not passed on in a family). Cells that have more mutations probably appear more abnormal (less like normal cells) to the immune system, making treatments that use the immune system or its principles more likely to be effective.

(Video) Immunotherapy Side Effects: What Patients Need to Know with Dr. Jeffery Weber

Tests to See if Opdivo May Be Effective

Tests that may be done to predict the response to Opdivo and other checkpoint inhibitors include:

  • PD-L1 Levels: Tests for PD-L1 levels can, in some cases, predict a response to Opdivo, but the test has many limitations as far as deciding when to use the drug. Some people who have low levels of PD-L1 may still have a very strong response to the drug.
  • Tumor Mutation Burden: Tumor mutation burden is a biomarker test that looks at the number of mutations in cancer cells. Those who have a high tumor mutation burden (defined as more than 10 mutations per megabase on Foundation testing) are more likely to respond, but as with PD-L1 testing, there are exceptions, and it is still too soon to use the test as a method of choosing treatment.

Potential Side Effects Of Opdivo (Nivolumab)

As with any cancer treatment, there are common and potential side effects to treatment with Opdivo.

Common side effects (those that occur in 10 percent or more of people) include:

  • Skin rash
  • Itching (pruritis)
  • Elevated potassium level (hyperkalemia) and low sodium level (hyponatremia)
  • Abnormal liver function tests such as ALT and alkaline phosphatase
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Low white blood cell count
  • Muscle pain especially with lung cancer

Less common but serious adverse effects may include:

  • Almost anything that ends with the suffix "itis," a term that means inflammation; such as colitis (inflammation of the colon), pneumonitis (inflammation of the lungs), hepatitis (inflammation of the liver), nephritis (inflammation of the kidneys), pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), and more
  • Eye conditions such as uveitisand dry eyes
  • Endocrine problems involving the thyroid gland, adrenal glands, and pituitary gland

Warnings While on Opdivo (Nivolumab)

People taking Opdivo should be monitored for inflammatory symptoms, and if present, the drug may need to be held or stopped. These include conditions such as pneumonitis, encephalitis, nephritis, and colitis. The drug can cause type I diabetes, and blood sugar should be monitored.

Adrenal insufficiency or adrenal fatiguecan occur, and people should be aware of the potential of this condition as well as the possible symptoms.

Severe immune related rashes such as Stevens-Johnson syndromemay occur, and you should talk to your healthcare provider about any rashes you develop.

Overall, however, severe adverse reactions necessitating stopping the drug are uncommon, occurring less than 1percent of the time. Make sure to talk to your oncologist about other potential symptoms as well as when you should call.

A Word From Verywell

Opdivo (nivolumab) is a very new drug that is classified as a type of immunotherapy. For those in whom these drugs are effective, we have sometimes seen responses of advanced solid tumors that were unimaginable just a few years ago. That said, they do not work for everyone, and we still do not have a good way of knowing who will respond best to treatment.

(Video) Immunotherapy Side Effects for Cancer – An Overview for Patients

Side effects are common, especially symptoms such as a rash, itching, and thyroid dysfunction. Serious adverse reactions may sometimes occur as well. In general, however, Opdivo is tolerated better than traditional chemotherapy.

There has been much excitement from the medical community for a few reasons. Opdivo can be used to treat even very advanced solid tumors. In addition, it can be effective in several different types of cancer. It's likely that new uses for the drug will be approved in the near future, and many clinical trials are in progress assessing the effect of Opdivo on a wide variety of cancer types, both alone, and in combination with other treatments.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are the side effects of Opdivo?

    Common side effects of Opdivo (Nivolumab) can include an abnormal liver function test, cough, elevated potassium level, low sodium level, itching, skin rash, low white blood cell count, shortness of breath, and muscle pain (more frequent in lung cancer).

    Rare but serious side effects include eye conditions like uveitis and dry eyes, endocrine problems that involve the thyroid gland, adrenal gland, and pituitary glands, or many conditions and diseases that end in "itis." This can include hepatitis, colitis, pancreatitis, and more.

  • What is immunotherapy?

    (Video) New Immunotherapy Cancer Treatment Opdivo (nivolumab)

    Immunotherapy is a type of treatment that strengthens certain aspects of a person's immune system to help fight disease or infection. This is accomplished in multiple ways - by increasing the natural strength of the immune system, or by incorporating lab-produced substances that behave similarly to natural components of the immune system.Opdivo (Nivolumab) is one type of immunotherapy drug.

FAQs

What Should You Know About the Immuotherapy Drug Opdivo? ›

Opdivo (nivolumab) is a monoclonal antibody or type of immunotherapy used to treat a number of different types of cancer. Opdivo is a programmed death-1 (PD-1) inhibitor that helps the T cells of your immune system identify and attack cancer cells.

How much longer do you live with Opdivo? ›

With a minimum follow-up of 6.5 years, median overall survival (OS) was 72.1 months with Opdivo plus Yervoy (95% CI: 38.2-NR), the longest reported median OS in a Phase 3 advanced melanoma trial, 36.9 months with Opdivo (95% CI: 28.2-58.7) and 19.9 months with the Yervoy group (95% CI: 16.8-24.6).

What are the most common side effects of Opdivo? ›

The most common side effects of OPDIVO, when used in combination with YERVOY and chemotherapy, include: feeling tired; pain in muscles, bones, and joints; nausea; diarrhea; rash; decreased appetite; constipation; and itching.

When do Opdivo side effects start? ›

Some people have had reactions within 2 days after their infusion, although these are rare as well. Opdivo may cause your immune system to attack healthy tissues or organs. This can happen anytime during or after stopping Opdivo treatment.

How does Opdivo make you feel? ›

Most people experience mild fatigue, if they have this side effect at all. But in rare cases, some people have reported extreme fatigue with Opdivo. With extreme fatigue, the fatigue doesn't go away with rest and affects your daily activities.

How long does immunotherapy extend your life? ›

In a study led by UCLA investigators, treatment with the immunotherapy drug pembrolizumab helped more than 15 percent of people with advanced non-small cell lung cancer live for at least five years — and 25 percent of patients whose tumor cells had a specific protein lived at least that long.

Is Opdivo a chemo drug? ›

OPDIVO® (nivolumab) is a prescription medicine used in combination with YERVOY® (ipilimumab) and 2 cycles of chemotherapy that contains platinum and another chemotherapy medicine, as a first treatment for adults with a type of advanced stage lung cancer (called non-small cell lung cancer) when your lung cancer has ...

Do you lose your hair on Opdivo? ›

Symptoms of these hormonal changes can include: headaches, nausea, vomiting, constipation, rapid heart rate, increased sweating, extreme fatigue, weakness, changes in your voice, changes in memory and concentration, increased hunger or thirst, increased urination, weight gain, hair loss, dizziness, feeling cold all the ...

Is Opdivo any good? ›

Opdivo has an average rating of 4.5 out of 10 from a total of 59 ratings on Drugs.com. 35% of reviewers reported a positive experience, while 60% reported a negative experience. Reviews may be edited to correct grammar/spelling, or to remove inappropriate language and content.

How much does Opdivo treatment cost? ›

Depending on the dose, Opdivo can cost $6,580 per infusion. According to the manufacturer, more than 60 percent of patients pay only a quarter of this price or less with coverage from Medicare, Medicaid, or other insurance plans.

What are the dangers of immunotherapy? ›

Immunotherapy may cause lowered blood counts, which may lead to bleeding, anemia, and other problems. Lungs. Immune checkpoint inhibitors may cause pneumonitis, which is inflammation of the lungs that can cause a cough or trouble breathing. Pneumonitis is uncommon but may be serious.

What are the signs that immunotherapy is working? ›

What are the signs that immunotherapy is working? Immunotherapy is deemed effective when a tumor shrinks in size or at least stops growing. It is important to note that immunotherapy drugs may take longer to shrink tumors compared to traditional treatments like chemotherapy.

What can I eat during immunotherapy? ›

“Consuming a diet rich in fiber, like fruits, vegetables, and legumes, could improve your ability to respond to immunotherapy.” Immunotherapy with immune checkpoint blockers helps restore the immune system's natural ability to recognize and kill tumor cells.

Does Opdivo boost your immune system? ›

Opdivo (nivolumab) works by blocking the PD-1 (programmed death receptor-1) pathway to help prevent cancer cells from hiding from the immune system. Nivolumab helps boost the immune system's response against cancer.

Can you drink alcohol with Opdivo? ›

What NOT to DO while on this medication: DO NOT smoke or drink alcohol while on treatment without talking to your health care team first. Smoking and drinking can make side effects worse and make your treatment not work as well.

Why do they stop immunotherapy after 2 years? ›

Some patients can develop chronic adverse effects (AEs) from immunotherapy, such as fatigue and arthralgias, says Lopes. Financial toxicities can also impact the decision to stop immunotherapy, explains Lopes. Long-term treatment with immunotherapy may not be financially sustainable for patients.

What is the survival rate after immunotherapy? ›

In this study, the mortality rate in the first 30 days after immunotherapy was 15%, which is a high rate compared with RCTs and with our study. However, this study included patients with both lung cancer and mesothelioma, and almost all the patients had previously received systemic chemotherapy.

Is immunotherapy the last resort? ›

Immunotherapy is still proving itself. It's often used as a last resort, once other therapies have reached the end of their effectiveness.

What cancers are treated with Opdivo? ›

Opdivo is used alone or with other drugs to treat certain types of esophageal cancer, gastroesophageal junction cancer, stomach cancer, colorectal cancer, non-small cell lung cancer, renal cell carcinoma (a type of kidney cancer), melanoma, hepatocellular carcinoma (a type of liver cancer), squamous cell carcinoma of ...

What happens after immunotherapy ends? ›

Even if immunotherapy no longer works, you have options. You might be able to try other cancer treatments. Or your doctors can give you medicines and other therapies to ease your symptoms so you feel better. Take this time to spend with family and friends, and do the things you love.

Does Opdivo make you tired? ›

You may have fatigue (lack of energy) while you're taking Opdivo. This is one of the most common side effects of the drug. In clinical studies, 39% to 59% of people who took Opdivo alone had fatigue.

Can Opdivo cause liver damage? ›

Opdivo may cause changes in the results of tests carried out by your doctor. These include: Abnormal liver function tests (increased amounts of the liver enzyme aspartate aminotransferase, alanine aminotransferase or alkaline phosphatase in your blood, higher blood levels or bilirubin)

Is Opdivo better than chemotherapy? ›

Side effects are common, especially symptoms such as a rash, itching, and thyroid dysfunction. Serious adverse reactions may sometimes occur as well. In general, however, Opdivo is tolerated better than traditional chemotherapy.

What is Opdivo made from? ›

It is made using Chinese hamster ovary cells. Nivolumab is the second FDA-approved systemic therapy for mesothelioma and is the first FDA-approved immunotherapy for the first-line treatment of gastric cancer.

Does insurance pay for immunotherapy? ›

Immunotherapy trains your immune system to treat different types of cancer and prevent allergic reactions. Private health insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid may cover immunotherapy. Patient assistance programs and other financial support could also help you pay for immunotherapy.

Does Medicare pay for immunotherapy drugs? ›

Immunotherapy is covered under Medicare as a cancer treatment. Immunotherapy drugs such as Keytruda and Opdivo are typically covered under Medicare if the medications are deemed medically necessary. Expect to pay certain out-of-pocket costs for immunotherapy cancer treatment even if you are covered by Medicare.

How often is Opdivo administered? ›

Here's a quick look at the treatment schedule—including the flexible option of every 2 weeks or every 4 weeks. OPDIVO is given through an intravenous (IV) infusion. The medicine is given directly into the bloodstream through a vein, usually in the arm or hand, by a healthcare professional.

Who is not a candidate for immunotherapy? ›

It was believed that elderly patients, or those over 65-70 years of age, were not good candidates for immunotherapy and it wasn't safe for them because their immune systems may not work as well.

Will I lose my hair with immunotherapy? ›

Targeted cancer drugs and immunotherapy

Some might cause complete hair loss. They can develop between several weeks to 2 to 3 months after starting treatment. Instead of hair loss, some targeted cancer drugs cause growth of hair in unexpected areas of the body.

Is immunotherapy safer than chemotherapy? ›

A new study from researchers at Johns Hopkins shows that an immunotherapy drug appears to treat Merkel cell carcinoma, a rare but aggressive form of skin cancer, more effectively and with better survival rates than does conventional chemotherapy.

What percentage of patients respond to immunotherapy? ›

In general, it's about 20-30 percent of patients who will respond to immunotherapy — depends on what type of disease it is or what type of cancer.

How soon do side effects start after immunotherapy? ›

You may have side effects within days of starting treatment, but more commonly they occur several weeks or months after starting treatment. In some rare cases, new side effects can appear months after finishing treatment. Most people have mild side effects.

How do I prepare for immunotherapy? ›

Remember: Bring any drugs that you take (example, pain medication, insulin) to your appointment. If you take any other pills like vitamins or supplements (including natural and herbal products) you should talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist about these before you start immunotherapy.

Is immunotherapy hard on your heart? ›

A recent study showed that a small percentage of patients who receive immunotherapy drugs called immune checkpoint inhibitor develop inflammation of the heart muscle known as myocarditis. In this study, about half of the patients who developed severe myocarditis died of it.

Can you travel on immunotherapy? ›

During immunotherapy or chemotherapy treatments, many patients are more sensitive to sunlight, and tend to burn easily. While traveling, be sure to apply sunscreen, avoid or limit direct sun exposure, and wear protective clothing to cover your skin.

Can you drive after immunotherapy? ›

Can I drive myself to and from having treatment? Unless your doctor has told you not to drive, you can drive yourself to and from your treatment session. You should not feel any different immediately after the treatment to how you felt before.

What is another name for Opdivo? ›

Nivolumab is also indicated for the treatment of patients with advanced renal cell carcinoma, classical Hodgkin lymphoma, squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck and urothelial carcinoma. Nivolumab is available under the following different brand names: Opdivo.

Can immunotherapy damage kidneys? ›

Kidney damage common in patients receiving immunotherapy for cancer, study finds. A new study indicates that kidney damage is fairly common in patients who take immunotherapy medications for treating cancer.

What is the success rate of nivolumab? ›

Findings: Across all four studies, 4-year overall survival with nivolumab was 14% (95% CI 11-17) for all patients (n=664), 19% (15-24) for those with at least 1% PD-L1 expression, and 11% (7-16) for those with less than 1% PD-L1 expression.

What happens after immunotherapy ends? ›

Even if immunotherapy no longer works, you have options. You might be able to try other cancer treatments. Or your doctors can give you medicines and other therapies to ease your symptoms so you feel better. Take this time to spend with family and friends, and do the things you love.

How long do you stay on nivolumab? ›

The average time for patients treated with ipilimumab/nivolumab to stay on therapy was about 2.5 months, but even among these patients, “two-thirds will stay in remission and do well,” he noted.

What is the success rate of Opdivo and YERVOY? ›

Of patients still alive and part of the current analysis, 77% of those who received the combination of Opdivo + Yervoy, 69% of those who received just Opdivo, and 43% of those who received Yervoy have been off treatment and never received subsequent systemic therapy for melanoma.

What is the survival rate after immunotherapy? ›

In this study, the mortality rate in the first 30 days after immunotherapy was 15%, which is a high rate compared with RCTs and with our study. However, this study included patients with both lung cancer and mesothelioma, and almost all the patients had previously received systemic chemotherapy.

How much does Opdivo cost per month? ›

Opdivo Coupon & Prices - Cost $49 per month.

How much does Opdivo treatment cost? ›

Depending on the dose, Opdivo can cost $6,580 per infusion. According to the manufacturer, more than 60 percent of patients pay only a quarter of this price or less with coverage from Medicare, Medicaid, or other insurance plans.

Why can you only stay on immunotherapy for 2 years? ›

Long-term treatment with immunotherapy may not be financially sustainable for patients. Data suggest that stopping immunotherapy after 1 year of treatment could lead to inferior progression-free survival and overall survival, says Lopes. However, stopping after 2 years does not appear to negatively impact survival.

Is immunotherapy the last resort? ›

Immunotherapy is still proving itself. It's often used as a last resort, once other therapies have reached the end of their effectiveness.

Why would a doctor stop immunotherapy? ›

Lopes: For patients who are receiving immunotherapy for metastatic disease and are responding, they can continue treatment for up to 2 years; however, if they experience disease progression or excessive toxicity they should stop the drugs.

Does Opdivo weaken the immune system? ›

OPDIVO and YERVOY can cause your immune system to attack normal organs and tissues in any area of your body and can affect the way they work. These problems can sometimes become severe or life-threatening and can lead to death. These problems may happen anytime during treatment or even after your treatment has ended.

What are the signs that immunotherapy is working? ›

What are the signs that immunotherapy is working? Immunotherapy is deemed effective when a tumor shrinks in size or at least stops growing. It is important to note that immunotherapy drugs may take longer to shrink tumors compared to traditional treatments like chemotherapy.

What can I eat during immunotherapy? ›

“Consuming a diet rich in fiber, like fruits, vegetables, and legumes, could improve your ability to respond to immunotherapy.” Immunotherapy with immune checkpoint blockers helps restore the immune system's natural ability to recognize and kill tumor cells.

Does Opdivo make you tired? ›

You may have fatigue (lack of energy) while you're taking Opdivo. This is one of the most common side effects of the drug. In clinical studies, 39% to 59% of people who took Opdivo alone had fatigue.

Can Opdivo be used alone? ›

OPDIVO can be used alone or in combination with YERVOY (OPDIVO + YERVOY). It is not known if OPDIVO is safe and effective in children younger than 18 years of age. OPDIVO and YERVOY are medicines that may treat certain cancers by working with your immune system.

Is Opdivo better than Keytruda? ›

Keytruda and Opdivo are both highly effective and commercially successful drugs which harness a patient's immune system to kill a growing list of cancer types. Both drugs are even effective in treating patients with lung cancer that no longer responds to prior therapies.

Videos

1. Melanoma Treatment: Nivolumab (Opdivo) vs. Pembrolizumab (Keytruda) | Memorial Sloan Kettering
(Memorial Sloan Kettering)
2. Immunotherapy Drug More Effective than Another in Treating Melanoma
(NYU Langone Health)
3. Will Immunotherapy Cancer Treatment Work for You?
(Lighter Side of Cancer)
4. INTRATUMORAL IMMUNOTHERAPY | DR. JASON WILLIAMS
(Williams Cancer Institute)
5. How Opdivo Cancer Treatment Works (Update)
(Lighter Side of Cancer)
6. Immunotherapy Cancer Treatment
(TexasOncology)

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